New Whole School Curriculum and Assessment Developments

Parents’ aspirations for their young person

Since last summer we have been asking parents to write in her own words, in everyday language; knowing their young person as they do now, what their specific hopes and aspirations for them are, for their life in adulthood.

 Previously this has been done in answer to set questions, for example at annual reviews. However, it was important to us, in continuing to review our curriculum, to allow for freer expression. The considerable majority of parents have now done this. There are considerable similarities in their responses which confirm our curriculum developments and school aims.

Learners’ aspirations for their lives

As able, young people have written or drawn about their aspirations for their lives: work, leisure and relationships.

Not only do these and those of parents inform our curriculum developments, but also, individual pathways into adulthood and we see these as these as increasingly as a ‘touch stone’ of reference for provision and progress. We also encourage learners to reflect on what they do and learn now and how this links to the future life they are seeking.

Learning roots lessons

These regular lessons are new in all key stages this year, informed by our knowledge and experience of our learners; their aspirations and those of their parents for their future lives; consultation with our educational psychologist and educational research. They focus on the core building blocks for successful learning:

  • Communication
  • Relationships
  • Emotional development

The focus of these lessons varies from one group to another and between individual learners:

  • for some the ability to understand and also to express themselves through signing and symbols or spoken language is a key barrier to their ability to accessing all learning
  • for some it may be the ability to make a mistake and to view this as a positive opportunity to learn more and to then persevere with their learning may be a key barrier for their success in learning and for later in their wider life as an adult
  • for some it may be ability to learn, interact, build on each other’s ideas in pairs or groups with a range of others that may be a key barrier to success in learning and for later in their work life as an adult

There is also the opportunity for an individual focus responding to specific needs as they arise.

Teachers and also learners, as able, reflect on and note, in words, their progress in learning roots each term.

Reflection Journals

Some learners are trialling these this year. They are personal, they include jottings, pictures, thoughts, and reflections in rough note forms for themselves. The aim is that these will support the development of their reflection skills for learning and life, including areas of learning roots skills. For example; ‘What did I do?’ ‘How did I do that?’ and linking these to feelings experienced by themselves and others.

Relaxation Lessons

These short regular lessons explicitly teach relaxation skills which all need to learn for healthy lives. They are tailored to the needs of each group and start with learning how to be physically relaxed in your body and what this feels like and extends to experiencing a variety of ways in which you may relax; with the ultimate aim of learners identifying what works for them and being able to apply these skills in real life contexts.

Teachers and also learners, as able, reflect on and note progress in relaxation each term.

Emotional development and learning 

This is also captured though the use of ‘Thrive.’ This is an approach which draws on the latest research to identify stages of a learners’ emotional development and what adults can do to promote emotional development and learning: enabling them to grow into increasingly confident, happy, creative and curious young people.

For groups of leaners whose emotional development is on a par with their cognitive, academic learning this is promoted through the positive, nurturing classroom learning environment.

For learners whose emotional development is much lower than their academic learning, there is an action plan to indicate to staff what they need to do to promote an individual’s emotional growth and this progress is measured each term.

Home and independence

We have extended our focus range for developing independence for life in the home and the community and a group of parents have led the involvement of parents in this:

  • determining targets in partnership with teachers and learners
  • how these are communicated with parents
  • how parents and learners may record progress towards these targets at home

Progress evidenced at home has been collated together with in school progress for the first term March 2017 and is being reviewed to see what we can learn about the best ways in which to work together with parents and learners on these targets.

These targets feed into the targets in each learner’s Education Health and Care Plan [EHCP] and its review.

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